NAZARETH School-National University banked on Terrence Fortea three fourths of the way before claiming a 91-72 victory over University of Santo Tomas yesterday to advance to the finals of the 80th University Athletic Association of the Philippines’ junior basketball tournament.
The 16-year-old Fortea tallied 16 points in the three quarters he played in before he was pulled out in the last period of their stepladder semifinal playoff with the Tiger Cubs as the Bullpups arranged a best-of-three finals’ series with the Ateneo Blue Eaglets at 4 p.m. starting this Friday.
“Confidence. Coach Goldwin (Monteverde) gave me a lot of it so I can just play my game,” said Fortea.
With the Bullpups trailing by two, 15-17, Fortea hit one of his two triples in the last 1:03 to put UST ahead in the remaining time of the first canto, 18-17.
Then, Miguel Oczon’s trey with 44 seconds left allowed the Bullpups to take command, 21-17.
After big man Paul Javillonar made his presence underneath in the second period, Fortea struck with nine points, including a triple and a driving shot in the last 9:04 as the Bullpups started pulling away, 29-17.
“Talagang talented si Terrence. Unti-unting nakikita ang strength niya as a player. Tumataas ang confidence niya,” said Monteverde.
Tiger Cub CJ Cansino had 10 points in the second period, but he was scoreless in the last 10 minutes of the first half, where the Bullpups began dominating the game.
Cansino’s scoreless spell allowed the Bullpups to keep moving away. They were up by 14 at halftime, 45-31.
Oczon shot 16 and Javillonar made 13, while Rhayyan Amsali added 12 for the Bullpups, who led by as much as 22 points off Amsali’s efforts, 88-66, with 4:39 to go.
“Masaya. Every time you are in transition with a team is a challenge. Kung paano mag-aadjust ang mga players sa system. Good thing, kahit unti-unti, nakaka-pickup sila,” said Monteverde, who is on his first year with the Bullpups after leaving the Adamson Baby Falcons last season.
The Bullpups are on their seventh finals appearance in as many years.
Rhayjun Baquial and Jezreel Villapando picked the cudgels from Cansino’s struggles with 16 points for the Tiger Cubs, who were coached for the last time by Chris Cantonjos.
Cantonjos said he won’t be back after this season and is set to tender his resignation. This is to give way to new UST coach Aldin Ayo’s choice of a new mentor who will handle the junior squad.
—Fortea 17, Oczon 16, Javillonar 13, Amsali 12, Manalang 11, Coyoca 8, Gonzales 4, Pangilinan 4, Minerva 2, Malonzo 2, Vinoya 2, Dayrit 0, Felicida 0
—Baquial 16, Villapando 16, Lina 10, Cansino 10, Narvasa 10, Anunciacion 6, Palencia 2, Dolendo 0, Manabat 0, Relucio 0, Estrella 0, Dela Cruz 0, Benzonan 0
21-17, 45-31, 67-51, 91-72